We’ve all been inundated with Best of 2009 lists, including the much talked about Publisher’s Weekly top ten list that fails to include any women authors or any poetry, the New York Times Best of 2009 list, which also includes no poetry, and the New Yorker’s “What We Read This Year,” which thankfully includes the reading habits of poets Tom Sleigh, Paul Muldoon, and Robert Pinsky, so that we can rest assured that at least poets are reading poetry. And thanks to the Huffington Post and the Poetry Foundation’s contemporary poetry best seller list of 2009, which is topped by Elizabeth Alexander’s Praise Song for the Day: A Poem for Barack Obama, we know which poetry books people were buying last year.
But that’s all so 2009. Rather than add another list of the passing year to the mix, I asked the Memorious staff to share their lists of anticipated books of 2010, and we’ll be posting those selections between now and the New Year.
My own list includes first books by two Memorious poetry contributors who I was thrilled to see win book contests this year:
Todd Hearon’s Strange Land was selected by Natasha Tretheway for the 2009 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition. It is about time that Hearon, who is the winner of the 2007 Pen New England “Discovery” Award and several other prizes, and who has published broadly, including in such journals as Ploughshares, Poetry, Slate, and Poetry London, was “discovered” by an editor or judge. Hearon, who is also a playwright, first appeared in our pages with his stunning long verse monologue “What Ghosts There Were,” and he came back to us in Issue 11 with a series of beautiful and vast lyric poems.
Melissa Range’s quick-witted and sharply formed poems will set your ears on fire, and I’m certainly not the first reader to be smitten with them. Her awards include a 2006 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, a 2007 “Discovery “/The Nation Award, and a fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and she has been published in such places as The Paris Review and Poetry London, as well as, of course, Memorious. Her first collection, Horse and Rider, is the winner of the Texas Tech University Press’s Walt McDonald Prize and will be published in Spring 2010.
Finally, my fiction pick: Daphne Kalotay’s first novel, Russian Winter, forthcoming in fall of 2010, does capture my attention in part due to the presence of a Russian poet among the characters. Kalotay’s memorable short story collection Calamity, a Poets and Writers Notable Book, garnered praise from the New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times, and Publishers Weekly. She is sure to deliver exquisite and careful prose in a novel that promises part mystery and part love story, while still offering all of the intelligence, wit and skill readers of her first book might expect. This is a writer to keep your eye on.
Stay tuned: tomorrow we’ll bring you assistant editor Laura van den Berg’s fiction list for 2010!
-Rebecca Morgan Frank, Editor-in-Chief